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Whilst a part of the global society is concerned with Agriculture’s ability to provide enough food to nourish the world’s population in 2050, another school of thought is more apprehensive of the ability of farmers to survive commercially. This argument is founded on the downwards trend in the global price of agricultural commodities over the last four decades. This paper provides a theoretical explanation for this trend and three potential responses that farmers may follow is suggested. The first response is for farmers to be at the forefront of new technology and to cut costs to the bare minim. The second response is to find alternative markets and the third response entails the development of luxury or value-added markets. However, it is also clearly indicated that the latter response would be eroded if a form of quality control is not included in the process. The rest of the paper is dedicated to systems and examples. The first of these is the Wine of Origin System in South Africa where both a system and product exist. In the case of Rooibos, a tea brewed from indigenous plants in South Africa, a product with appropriate characteristics does exist but no institutional framework is in place. The process of describing the unique characteristics of Rooibos is subsequently explained. In the last Section of the paper an Africa-wide list of products with unique and origin-based characteristics is provided and the systems for the protection of these products in a number of African countries are summarised. It is clear from this paper that an abundance of unique products exist in Africa and the question is raised whether the African Union does not have a role to play in providing a framework for the protection and commercial exploitation of African agricultural products with a unique set of quality characteristics.


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